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Mar 04

The Original American Frontier by Terry Irene Blain

mePlease welcome Terry Irene Blain as she Travels Back in Time to the American Frontier.

Thanks for inviting me, Anna.

Being a history teacher, when I started to write historical romance, I chose one of my favorite historical period of the American Revolution, the first American Frontier. This was ‘the land beyond the mountains that had confined the original settlers to the colonial seaboard area.

For most people the words “frontier” and “the west” conjure up visions of the Great Plains west of the Mississippi. But for the early settlers, the western frontier was the uncharted wilderness beyond the eastern tidewater, the land first glimpsed by frontiersmen such as John Finley and Daniel Boone.

What America offered that Europe on longer could was free land, room to expand. The colonial American desire to expand into these lands, and the British restrictions against such expansion, added to the desire for American independence.

KG_reduxThis is the original frontier that provides the background for KENTUCKY GREEN. For people living on that frontier, it took a man and a woman working together to make a home in this land. A quote from Daniel Boone demonstrates this: A man needs three essentials, a good horse, a good rifle, and a good wife.

With the start of the American Revolution in 1776, early settlers west of the Appalachians were attacked by British-backed bands of Indians. These battles and attacks are usually bypassed by texts on the American Revolution. One such battle was at Blue Licks, which the hero of KENTUCKY GREEN recounts in the story.

In the decade that followed the signing of the Treaty of Paris 1783, the official end of the Revolutionary War, citizens of the new United States swarmed into the newly acquired Northwest Territories. These settlers flooded into these new territories and building homes and towns in what had been wilderness.

The various Indian tribes who had inhabited the area did not take kindly to what they viewed as an invasion. Forming a loose confederation, the tribes turned to their traditional allies, the British, who in violation of one of the terms of the Treaty of Paris, still occupied forts in the Ohio Territory.

To make the Ohio Valley of Indians safe for settlers, President Washington sent expeditions in 1790 under Hammer, and in 1791 under St. Clair. Both armies were defeated by the Indians.

Washington then gave the task to Anthony Wayne, a revolutionary war hero. Taking time to discipline and organize the army, Wayne moved his Legion (as Wayne called the army), toward the British forts. Using this back ground, the hero of my story serves as one of Wayne’s civilian scouts. The most famous of these was William Wells, a white man raised by the Indians.kentucky

As in the case of the words “frontier” and “the West,” the words “Indian Wars” also bring to most people’s minds the US Calvary versus the Sioux and Cheyenne on the Great Plains. But the confrontation between the American Army and the Ohio Valley tribes—Miami, Shawnee, Ottawa, Sauk, and Fox—was by far the more fiercely contested. At the Battle of Fallen Timbers (August 20, 1794) Wayne commanded 3,000 men against an Indian force of around 2,000. Compare this to General George Custer, who 80 years later at the Battle of Little Big Horn commanded 265 men.

So I used the Battle of Fallen Timbers as the penultimate action in my story. And, as my hero predicts, after the defeat of the tribes, Wayne was able to negotiate the Treaty of Greenville (August 1795) in which the Indians ceded most of Ohio and large sections of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan to the United States.

Historical people in this book are General Wayne and his aide, William Henry Harrison, who would be elected President in 1840.

Excerpt

Philadelphia, Spring 1794

April Williamson slowed her pace as she approached the Twelve Tankards Inn. Cool morning sunlight bathed the wooden steps and wide front porch. To bolster her courage she wore her most flattering gown, completed before Richard’s death had dressed her in mourning. She shivered, more from apprehension than from the crisp morning.

Male voices drifted from the common room as she climbed the inn’s steps. On the porch she paused. For inside, just through the inn’s open double doors, was the man who could turn her dreams into reality.

Please, don’t let me mishandle this. Please make Daniel McKenzie agree to take me to Kentucky. Swallowing her nervousness, she entered the inn.

Light streamed in from the open door behind her, throwing an elongated patch on the wide planks of the pegged floor. A stone-flagged fireplace bearing a huge oak mantel dominated the north wall. Two men sat at one of the tables, steaming cups of coffee before them.

The innkeeper’s message had given her just a name—Daniel McKenzie. But which one was he? Her gaze went first to the taller man. With his dark hair and tanned complexion, he didn’t appear particularly Scottish. She looked to the second man. Slightly older, he had the fair skin and sandy-red hair which characterized so many Scotsmen.

While she hesitated, the dark-haired man rose, and with long booted strides started across the common room toward the fireplace. Concluding the seated man must be Mr. McKenzie, she moved toward the table with a determination she hoped camouflaged the butterflies in her stomach.

April stopped before the table, heart beating in her throat. “Mr. McKenzie?” The smaller man stood to acknowledge her presence and she said in a rush, “I understand your company has a commission to carry supplies to General Wayne.”

The man nodded.

She hurried on, not giving him a chance to speak. “I would like to accompany you on that trip.”

“No.” The flat reply came not from the man before her, but from the tall, dark man standing by the fireplace. Startled, she twisted to look at him.

Lean and hard-looking, he stood tall enough to rest his arm easily across the high mantel. His muscles bunched under his linen shirt as he brought his arm down. With easy grace he strode across the room toward her.

A sinking, fluttery feeling intensified with his approach. A new and different feeling, certainly not the apprehension she had felt up to now.

Tight buckskin riding breeches fit his slender hips and strong thighs without a wrinkle before disappearing into glossy top boots. Hair, dark as India ink, was brushed straight back from his brow and tied at the nape of his neck with a plain queue ribbon. And his beautiful eyes: a striking pale blue-gray with long lashes, framed by high cheekbones and thick, dark eyebrows. She’d seen that particular shade of blue-gray before. But this wasn’t the time to try and remember when.

He stopped before her. Under the intensity of his gaze, she instinctively took a small step backward.

“No,” he repeated. “The McKenzie and Murray Trading Company transports army supplies.” His rough-textured baritone held the faint drawl of the frontier. “We don’t take passengers.”

Fear of failure made her words sharp. “I beg your pardon; I wasn’t speaking to you, but to Mr. McKenzie.” She gestured to the man standing across the table.

“I’m McKenzie,” the dark-haired man replied.

Terry's Collage

Terry’s Collage

BIO: Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Midwestern family with a rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestor’s adventures with Indians, wild life, weather and frontier life in general. So she naturally gravitated to the study of history completing a BA and MA in History and taught History at the college level. Married to a US Navy sailor, now retired, she’s had the chance to live in various parts of the United States as well as travel to foreign places such as Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland. She writes historical romance based in the American west. “My degrees and my teaching experience make me a natural to write historical romance. Writing historical romance gives me the opportunity to pass on stories of who we are and where we come from while exploring the relationship between men and women. What could be more exciting than that?”

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5 comments

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  1. Jill Hughey

    I know it isn’t a true representation of the book, but I love the movie “Last of the Mohicans” partly because it shows those really early years when all of North America—or 99% of it—was frontier.

  2. Terry Irene Blain

    Hi Jill,
    Loved ‘Last of the Mohicans’, as it made it much easier to pitch this story, rather than saying (in my history prof style) ‘during the Washingtion adminstration’ of takes place in 1794 – which doesn’t really bring a setting to mind for most people.

  3. Kathy Otten

    Sounds like a great read. I’ve always loved this time period. Growing up in the Champlain Valley of Vermont, my brothers and explored many of the old forts and battlefields of the Revolutionary War. And the exploits of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys were drummed into our heads in grade school.
    I loved the movie Last of the Mohicans. I read part of the book, but couldn’t get through it. Same with The Deerslayer. But one of my favorite books about that time period is Allan Eckert’s book, The Frontiersmen, about Simon Kenton.

  4. Pat Amsden

    I love historicals because they give me a glimpse of history while enjoying a romance. This one sends wonderful.

  5. Terry Irene Blain

    One of my favorite novels is The Kentuckians by Janice Holt Giles. Read it as middle/high schooler. Don’t know it it’s still in print.

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